Santiago Hosts South American Croatian Diaspora Meeting

The three-day gathering of the descendants of Croatian emigrants to South America, the third such event, aims to encourage networking and unity among the emigrant Croatian communities on the continent, to nurture the national identity and closer ties between the diaspora and Croatia

State secretary for political affairs Zdravka Bušić took part in a gathering in Santiago of the Croatian diaspora communities of South America from the 27th to 29th of October.
The three-day gathering of the descendants of Croatian emigrants to South America, the third such event after Lima in 2015 and Santa Cruz de la Sierra in 2016, aims to encourage networking and unity among the emigrant Croatian communities on the continent, to nurture the national identity and closer ties between the diaspora and Croatia.
The delegation led by state secretary Bušić, participating in the gathering as the special envoy of the Croatian President, also included state secretary Matko Glunčić of the science and education ministry, national science, higher education and technological development council representatives Željko Grabarević and Jurica Pavičić, University of Zagreb representative Andrea Sršen and Croatian Chamber of Commerce vice president for international affairs and the EU Želimir Kramarić.
The gathering, staged at the premises of Estadio Croata, the largest association of descendants of Croatian emigrants in Chile, opened with a gala dinner for some four hundred prominent members of our diaspora community, more than one hundred of which travelled for the event from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Among the special guests was the dean of the diplomatic corps and papal nuncio Monsignor Ivo Scapolo, the EU ambassador in Chile Stella Zevourdaki, the political director of the Chilean foreign ministry ambassador Milenko Skoknić, representatives of the Chilean judiciary, Croatian honorary consuls in Punta Arenas, Antofagasta, Santa Cruz and Cordoba, the general vicar for the Croatian colony in Latin America Monsignor Drago Balvanović from Lima, Croatian auditor general Ivan Klešić and aides, Branka Bezić Filipović representing the Croatian Heritage Foundation, representatives of the foreign and European affairs ministry and science and education ministry, and business people and members of the leading families of Croatian descent from across Latin America.
The working meetings focused on the potential for economic cooperation between Latin America and Croatia and the use of a number of EU programmes and instruments for Latin America for small and mid-sized businesses. The preservation of the Croatian identity unified a number of lectures on the ongoing activities among the communities in many South American countries, from cultural amateurism to language schools and the preservation of the rich archival materials that needs to be gathered to serve as a key resource in educating youth and as a reminder of the generational contribution of the community of descendants of Croatian immigrants to building and developing the entire continent.
The gathering also featured a rich programme showcasing culture and arts societies in the Croatian diaspora communities from across Chile and other Latin American countries.
Santiago's Teatro Oriente was the venue for the 5th Croatian Folklore Encounter, an event hosted by the Corporación Cultural Chileno-Croata Domovina. The group has been the initiator of a number of folklore festivals in the Croatian communities of Latin America in Uruguay, Argentina and Chile since 2011.
A mass for the homeland was led by Monsignor Balvanović with concelebrant Monsignor Većeslav Tumir, the secretary of the nunciature in Santiago, and friar Ivica Vrbić, a missionary in Bolivia. The duties of choir were delightfully filled by the ensemble of the Croatian house in Punta Arenas.
The event participants also visited the Pascual Baburizza Agricultural Institute Foundation in Los Andes, established in 1941 by Croatian industrialist and philanthropist Pascual Baburizza. The foundation is now operated by the family of Andronico Lukšić, the greatest Chilean businessperson and philanthropist of Croatian extraction, with the mission of providing education in agriculture to young Chileans from indigent families.
The meeting supported a proposal from Tomislav Topic Granados, a respected Ecuadorian businessman of Croatian extraction, to hold the 2018 gathering of the Croatian diaspora in South America in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.
A gala dinner was hosted at the Croatian residence in Santiago on the 26th of October with state secretary Bušić and her aides and the Chilean undersecretary of foreign affairs Edgardo Riveros Marin who was accompanied by ambassador Alejandra Guerra, Director of the Directorate of European Affairs, and cabinet member Felipe Cusiño.
Participating in the gathering, organised by the Estadio Croata Croatian diaspora association, the Corporación Cultural Chileno-Croata Domovina, an association of professionals and businesspeople of Croatian extraction, the Chilean-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Damas Croatas and Pastoral Croata, and the Croatian embassy in Santiago, were the representatives of the Croatian communities of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador.


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